Social media can be a useful part of an author’s platform, helping them connect with readers, fellow writers, and the publishing community. But deciding what content to post next can be a struggle. So how do successful authors use social media to engage with their fans? And what can authors post on social media besides links to their own books?
Below you’ll find 24 ideas, along with examples from dozens of successful authors. Many of these tactics can help promote a book, but in more creative and engaging ways than simply posting a link to a book’s retailer page. We hope this provides you with inspiration when you’re brainstorming content to publish on social media. (Publishers and agents, we encourage you to share it with your authors to help them build more engaging profiles!)
1. Run a Q&A session
Give readers the opportunity to ask questions live, and give them a set amount of time in which they’ll have your undivided attention.
Brigid Kemmerer has invited fans to scheduled and impromptu Q&As over Instagram Live, sometimes including fellow authors (like in this example below with Sophie Gonzales).
Sandhya Menon took to Instagram Live to chat with fans about everything from her decor to her writing inspiration. She also fielded some questions from readers.
2. Ask fans for their opinions
Fans are often eager to voice their opinions online, so prompting them with a specific topic can be a great way to get to know your fans and start discussion.
Here’s a great example from Roseanne A. Brown where she asked for people’s opinions of their favorite indie bookstore on Instagram. She placed the question near the top of the caption and prefaced it with “QOTD,” which stands for “question of the day.”
Sarah Nicolas polled their followers on how many genres they read. Polls can be an excellent method to connect with your readers and understand their preferences.
3. Post cover reveals
Social media is a great place to show fans what your next book will look like. They’ll be excited to see the visual depiction of your next story, and it will build recognition when the book is available for sale.
David Baldacci shared the cover of his upcoming thriller. Referencing the preorder link in his bio is a great way to attract early buyers!
Ruth Ware posted the UK and US proofs of her new book and asked her fans to guess which cover belonged to each edition.
4. Show props from a scene in a book
Bring your books to life by showing fans how you envisioned objects from specific scenes.
Maggie Stiefvater posted a picture with tarot cards that appeared in a scene from her book. The tarot cards were also part of a month-long giveaway and offered as a prize to fans.
Cheryl Bradshaw created a Pinterest board where she compiled images of props and scenery from her book series with detailed descriptions so readers could see how she envisioned these elements.
5. Share virtual event schedules
If you’re participating in virtual conferences, book tours, book signings, or any other event, let fans know where they can find you online.
Hank Phillippi Ryan creates a Facebook Event for each virtual event so readers can easily find an up-to-date list. Each event includes information on where readers can get tickets, if necessary.
Brit Bennett announced her virtual tour stops over Facebook, and posted a graphic to promote each event.
6. Provide a behind-the-scenes look at your writing process
Show fans what inspires you during your writing process. This can be anything from the research you gathered, photos from location scouting trips, diagrams or sketches you drew, or even excerpts from early drafts.
Brad Thor shared photos from a researching trip on Facebook, which fans were excited to see.
Leigh Bardugo created a Pinterest board for each of her main characters showing her inspiration for how they looked and dressed.
7. Update fans on your writing progress
Your fans may be clamoring for your next book, so give them an update! They’ll enjoy the glimpse into your publishing process and the struggles and successes that come along with it.
R.S. Grey took a personal approach to her writing announcement, sharing that she’s had difficulty finding time to work, but is back at it.
Susan Dennard kept the peek into her writing process for the next installment of her series short and simple.
8. Show off your work space
If you’d rather not give specific updates on your work in progress, show your fans where you work. Writing can be an isolated task, so social media provides a great way to invite readers into your work space (without the risk of in-person distraction).
Here’s a lovely shot of Beth O’Leary’s work space on Instagram.
Julie C. Dao posted a picture of her writing setup when she started her new manuscript.
9. Share a quote from one of your books
To drive exposure for a book, create an image of a notable, inspiring, or funny quote from the book. You can use tools like Canva to easily turn quotes into eye-catching images.
Marie Lu introduced characters from her upcoming release through quotes shared to her instagram page.
Colleen Hoover publicized her upcoming release with an intriguing and aesthetically pleasing quote from the book.
10. Discuss your love of books
Readers who follow authors on social media obviously love books. Relating to them and sharing in that love of books can foster engagement. For inspiration, check out BookBub’s blog, where you’ll find posts like 21 Quotes Only True Book Lovers Will Understand or 17 Secrets Only Book Lovers Are In On.
Jude Deveraux posted this simple quote that got nearly 1,000 likes in less than 24 hours.
You can also share full articles that book lovers would relate to, like Linda Lael Miller did here.
11. Share good news by thanking others
Accomplishing a literary feat like topping a bestseller list, winning an award, or landing a new book deal is something authors want to shout from the rooftops. But thanking readers for their role in your accomplishments is a more humble way to share good news, recognizing readers for their involvement in that success.
Glennon Doyle shared a touching note thanking fans for their support along with a video of impressive accolades for her recent release.
Austin Channing Brown similarly expressed gratitude for her book’s reception.
12. Share fans’ photos or art
You can also show fan appreciation by sharing art they’ve created based on your books, or reposting photos they’ve shared with you.
Posting fan photos can be a great way to engage with readers while promoting a book. Alisson Wood posted a clever photo a fan sent to her posing with her new release.
Beth Revis created a Pinterest board for the fan art people share with her.
13. Show support for other authors
Use your social media presence to promote other authors you admire. You can coordinate efforts — cross-promoting each other’s work gets you exposure to new fans — or share the love unprompted! Maybe they’ll return the favor later. Either way, fans love to see recommendations from their favorite authors. A book or author you like is likely one they’ll enjoy, too.
Katie Zhao gave a shout-out to Bethany C. Morrow, plugging Bethany’s new release in a fun post ahead of the July 4th weekend.
Kiley Reid helped promote her friend Liz Moore’s book when it went on sale.
14. Share your reading list
If you don’t want to post detailed reviews, simply share what you’re reading now or your to-be-read (TBR) list.
Here’s a great example from Ijeoma Oluo where she posted a picture of a book she was reading while waiting at the orthodontist’s office.
Megan Angelo posted mini-reviews of the last three books she read.
15. Create little games for fans
Encourage interaction by creating fun games: quote fill-in-the-blanks, trivia, scavenger hunts, Mad Libs, guessing games — the possibilities are endless.
Here’s a great fill-in-the-blank quote Sylvia Day posted to Instagram.
James Rollins used part of an image from one of his book covers to play a guessing game with fans on Facebook.
Erin Bowman posted a creative game to her Instagram Story, demonstrating an excellent strategy to help fans get to know your book in a fun way.
16. Share playlists for a book or character
Music can be inspirational, and fans often want to know what authors listen to while crafting specific scenes, or what songs influenced the creation of their characters.
Elizabeth May tweeted a link to a Spotify playlist for one of her books.
Jennifer Niven created a playlist for one of her characters on Pinterest.
17. Post audiobook excerpts
Demand for audiobooks is rapidly rising, and posting snippets can be a great way to get your audience excited for your audiobooks.
Phil Williams posted an excerpt on Twitter, giving his fans a taste of his new audiobook.
Philippa Gregory shared a Facebook video with an excerpt of her audiobook. She enticed listeners by noting that the narrators had recently earned an award for their voice work.
18. Answer fans’ frequently asked questions
If fans ask questions in your Facebook posts, your answers can get buried in the comment threads. So compile your answers in their own post!
Maya Banks made a post on her Facebook page answering questions she received following an announcement for her upcoming series release.
To celebrate her unboxing going live, Janella Angeles answered fan questions on her Instagram Story and left the session as a highlight so readers can find it anytime.
19. Promote charities and other good causes
As someone with a platform, you have the opportunity to advocate for charities and other good causes you feel strongly about — and actually be heard. Share how you participate and gently encourage fans to play a role.
Glory Edim used her platform to bring attention to the killing of Breonna Taylor, listing concrete actions that followers could take to honor her life and fight for justice.
This post from Debbie Macomber was shared nearly 400 times, gaining valuable exposure for a great cause.
20. Share unboxing videos
Whether you’re a traditionally or self-published author getting your print books or advance reading copies (ARCs) in the mail, post a book unboxing video!
Hafsah Faizal posted an exciting ARC unboxing video of We Hunt the Flame where she gets to hold her words in a bookish format for the first time.
Elise Bryant posted a video of her unboxing the ARCs of her debut novel, Happily Ever Afters.
21. Share interesting links and media
Your fans are clearly interested in the topics you write about in your books, so chances are you share other interests as well. If you find a photo, article, or video particularly interesting, share it with your fans. They might enjoy the content, too! Bonus points if you ask for their opinions to foster a conversation.
Science fiction author Neal Stephenson often shares articles on science and technology, which his audience finds interesting.
Here’s a fun post from Karen Robards where she engaged fans with a question.
22. Show off your pets
When in doubt, post pictures of animals. It’s a sure win — everyone loves animals.
You can post a picture of a pet with your book for some promotion points, like Claribel A. Ortega did on Instagram.
Or let your pet be the star, like Hanna C. Howard did when she posted this adorable Instagram picture of her cat perched on her writing space.
23. Let fans see your personal side
Not all of your content has to be about books! Lots of authors share random photos they take, adventures from their latest trip, favorite recipes, opinions on pop culture and current events — you name it. Don’t assume fans won’t care about what you have to say. Those personal posts can be the ones that get the most engagement!
Here’s a gem from John Scalzi on Twitter that we loved.
And here’s a lovely personal post from Danielle Steel.
24. Check in when you take a break
It’s perfectly fine to take a break from social media to focus on writing. Your fans will understand — and they’ll be happy to know you’re making progress on your next book! If you take a hiatus, consider checking in once in a while to let fans know what you’re up to.
Sarah Dessen checked in with her fans on Facebook to 1.3K likes and nearly 100 comments of encouragement. Not a bad way to get some inspiration to keep on writing!
What other types of content do your fans engage with on social media? Let us know in the comments below!
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Click to tweet: Wow, check out all of these great examples of authors using social media! There are some fantastic ideas here. #amwriting #writetip http://bit.ly/1ZdtkjH
Click to tweet: This gets me so excited to share content on social media! The only question is: Which of these should I try first? http://bit.ly/1ZdtkjH
This post was originally published on June 6th, 2016, and has been updated with new examples.